Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned
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Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned (Don't Know Much About)

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3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  860 ratings  ·  137 reviews
The latest installment in the New York Times bestselling Don't Know Much About® series - a magical journey into the timeless world of mythology.

It has been fifteen years since Kenneth C. Davis first dazzled audiences with his instant classic Don't Know Much About® History, vividly bringing the past to life and proving that American's don't hate history, they just hate the...more
Hardcover, 545 pages
Published 2005 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Laura Leaney
Sep 06, 2010 Laura Leaney rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mythology beginners
This is a grand summary of world mythology. Kenneth Davis puts it altogether in one coherent, incredibly readable book. Sure, he leaves quite a bit out - and he omits pedantic scholarly digressions as well - but the whole of it is very helpful and ultimately proves why mythology still matters.

Did you know that the ancient Mesopotamians "invented the seven-day week, beer, and astrology"? Neither did I! Every time I lift my stein, I will say a big thank you to the people between the Tigris and th...more
Amber
This book is pretty much what the title says it is. It's not a scholarly mess of whatnot, but a really great breakdown of most major culture's mythological history. I am pretty convinced that no one really has any idea about specifics of Japanese mythology because I can never find a book on it (only art relating to the mythology) but it is still pretty amazing to see how every culture has similar themes going through etc etc. It's still pretty nerdly reading, but easy to understand just for funs...more
Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost ("As the Pirate Aarhgs")
This is a good tour through Mythology by Kenneth C. Davis. It's not going to make anyone a Mythological genius just by reading it. However, it does give a good overview with depth into many of the worlds mythologies. Some of the stories are different than what I had learned through other sources, but I have no reason to doubt Mr. Davis.

I especially appreciate the skill and care Davis took to make sure the myths of Sub-Saharan Africa and were treated with the same respect and dignity as myths fr...more
Becky
This book is an intersting blend of history and mythology--and really does prove that most of us don't know much about either! Each section of the book starts with a timeline of events for the part of the world being discussed (ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Americas, Pacific islands, and more) and then follows with information on the myths of each in a question-and-answer format, including a "who's who" of gods and goddesses for each region. Sprinkled throughout each section are...more
melydia
Wow, this book is long. I mean, it's interesting, but there's so much information covering so vast a scope that reading it is like running a marathon. Each section covers a geographical region such as Africa or Western Europe, with the countries boasting the most well-documented mythologies getting the most treatment, such as Egypt, India, and Greece/Rome. Each section includes a timeline, a "who's who" of gods and goddesses, relevant quotes, and answers to common questions like "was there reall...more
Tanj
I'm a big fan of Kenneth Davis's books. Although I am a huge nerd when it comes to history, he presents his information in a way that isn't boring and doesn't make your eyes glaze over so that you read the same sentence over and over again. The great thing about Don't Know Much About Mythology, is that he goes beyond the general "This is what this culture believed", and gives the reader a pretty thorough history of the people whose Mythology he's about to share with you. Another great thing abou...more
Sally
Very instructive book, though not what I was expecting. I thought it would be a collection of world-wide myths but instead found it to be a history of myths - the author gives the textbook history of a specific group of people or region, the history of the discovery of the myths, and then sprinkles in some of the stories, and finally puts in notes about how the "myths" could be related to factual events. Instead of sitting at the feet of a story-teller, I found myself in a lecture hall with a ve...more
Angie
I listened to the abridged audio CD. I'm grateful it was abridged. I had a hard time sticking with this book. I can't imagine reading all 560 pages. At times, the book was repetitive, boring, and full of sexual themes. The author loved to quote Freud and refer to any mythic imagery relating to sex or fertility. The title is misleading. I expected this to be a rundown of the classic Greek/Roman mythological stories. This was an ancient world history with occassional references to religious belief...more
Hikerdee
I downloaded this ebook as a free offering from Barnes and Noble Nook book.

I liked that this book gave me an opportunity to read the mythologies from some cultures I was not familiar; and at the same time, I disliked when Davis often lumped together too many cultures simply because they were on the same continent. I disliked the digressions made to show similarities with other cultures for the digressions slowed the pace of the narrative to the point this reader lost interest. I did not like wh...more
Edy Gies
I found the mythology fascinating and reading about it made me want to study this topic more. What I didn't appreciate was the way Mr. Davis gave his own opinion on "Christian" beliefs while embracing every other belief system. I am a Christian. I stand for God's word believe what he says. This is what I choose to believe. I tell others but I don't force it on them. According to his tone, this makes me both naive and stupid. I disagree. He is entitled to his opinion, but he should state it as th...more
Daniel
A great overview of world mythology. There are enough basics in it to excite and inform the new arrival to the mythological scene, while presenting enough new ideas to entice the well-read to continue on. And the fact that each chapter is only a page or two makes it an incrediablly fast read.

I should note that their is a bias toward Egyptian, Mesopatamian and European mythology. The cultures of the far east get little page time.
Allison
Great primer and starting point if you're interested in any kind of mythology and/or religion. Davis is very articulate, explicit, and objective. I really like how easy it is for the reader, when reading about all these together, to make clear connections between "disparate" mythologies. I am really intrigued about a lot of what I read here and would definitely like to read more myths and more about myths.
Kipahni
I started reading this as a quick reference for egyptian myth, but I couldn't put it down after that. I desired to know more about the other mythology. I enjoy the way that Davis writes. Simple, orderly, and interesting. A great reference book that contains a general over veiw of the cultures cosmology, significant events and a who's who in each chapter. I think I will try another of his books
Marisela
I am on disc 4 of this audio book and unfortunately, I am bored out of my mind. For starters, it is hard to understand the reader. His accent is very hard to hear and does not do the book any favors.

The subject is interesting, however, this author has repeated some of the subjects over and over in just the first 4 discs. I can't imagine reading the rest of the book (CD).
Danna
This book helped me a lot through one of my courses in school but not really something to just sit down and read.
Diana (Bever) Barber
Not a fan. Too full of personal anecdotes that are meant to be witty but can be actually quite rude.
Patrick Aleph
Good reference book and great for first time myth readers. Read this BEFORE reading Campbell or Jung
Erik
This book discusses the mythology of the key ancient civilizations: Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and South, Central, and North American. I found this book quite interesting and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in ancient religions, especially those people who are curious about the the commonalities between major ancient religions. For example, nearly Every ancient civilization has a Flood narrative eerily (or not so much) similar to the biblical...more
Angela
Continuing my efforts to read more non-fiction this year, I selected Kenneth Davis' "Don't Know Much About Mythology" as my next big listen. And boy was it a BIG listen. This audio took me forever to finish because it was so packed full of information. There were parts that didn't translate well into audio, for example the timelines at the beginning of each section. But overall is was a great listen if not a bit long. Audio listeners may want to checkout the abridged version since the print book...more
The
Reading in sections as I review my ELA curriculum that parallels the Global. Reviews are in order by section.

Mesopotamia: Why is this section second? In every global or world history course we normally begin with Mesopotamia (Davis begins with Egypt- perhaps with later reading I will have to amend this section). Davis' introduction to this section is informative and detailed. I thought the seven day week, beer, and astrology were probably the most interesting to the widest audience. The oppress...more
Snorkle
Kenneth C. Davis attempts to entertain us while also educating us on world mythology. I only read this book because I had already read a couple other books by Kenneth and thought that they were pretty good, and I was also interested to see what I could soak up in mythology (not one of my favorite subjects). I was highly disgusted with the content of this book. It seemed like every page had a story of incest, rape, sexuality or dramatic violence.
I kept reading because I thought that maybe the my...more
Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost ("As the Pirate Aarhgs")
Kenneth Davis's "Don't Know Much" Series - A wonderful Introduction and invitation to get more involved and deeper into those things that make life....life. This is a good tour through Mythology by Kenneth C. Davis. It's not going to make anyone a Mythological genius just by reading it. However, it does give a good overview with some depth and exposure to the worlds ancient beliefs. Some of the stories as told by Davis are different than what I had learned through other sources, but I have no re...more
Richard
Don't Know Much About Mythology is one in a series of Don't Know Much About books, the most famous of which is his Don't Know Much About The Bible. If you pick up this book hoping to learn a lot of mythic stories you will be disappointed as the title says, it is about mythology, not the myths themselves.

The book is divided into major sections. The first is a treatise on what makes a myth and some looking at the history of the study of myth. The next sections then take a region of the world and d...more
Jess
This book was a hit and miss for me. Not terrible but not great either. I have found that some of Ken Davis’ works have that same rapport with me. I either love it (Don’t Know much about History, Civil War) or I find myself quickly bored and confused and wanting to put it down (Bible, Literature). Thankfully I’ve finished them all because I feel I will learn something.

I’ve considered myself already knowledgeable in the subject of Greco/Roman mythology and was curious to see what else this book m...more
Carin
I listened to this audio because I thought that it would be a good one for my boyfriend and I try listen to together on a long car trip, since in college he studied ancient Greece and Rome. He, however didn't like it. I will agree with him that the Introduction was overly long and explained things a bit too much about how the book was structured and all, but he didn't have the stamina to get past that to the meat of the book. Which he likely still wouldn't have liked, but I enjoyed immensely.

I r...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Author Kenneth C. Davis sets out to fill in the gaps of the average reader's knowledge of mythology. Don't expect a book of stories about Zeus and Hera; they're here but so are gods from Egypt, Celtic lands, Africa, the Americas, Asia, India, and just about every culture you can think of.

This was not what I expected. I thought I was getting something along the lines of Edith Hamilton's Mythology--the actual myths in one big collection. I should have paid more attention to the subtitle, "Everyth...more
George
AN AUTODIDACT’S DELIGHT.

“…humans are mythmaking animals, retelling ancient stories to fulfill present needs.”—page 206

I haven’t felt this smart since I finished reading Will Durant’s ‘The Story of Philosophy,’ decades ago. That said and the book read, I’m still more mythology moron than maven.

In her excellent and inviting synopsis/review, on the goodreads.com page, of Neil Gaiman’s, ‘Ameican Gods,’ (a novel I recently added to my ‘to-read’ shelf) Sharon Bosley writes, parenthetically, “(A word o...more
Norm Davis
Jan 09, 2014 Norm Davis rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Zilch, Zero, Nada
Recommended to Norm by: Must have been a give-away
Shelves: reference, philosophy
Thank Thor and all the snake gods, I've finished!

In my ongoing notes about the book I mention the review is going to be monumental, or minimal... I'm shooting for the completely “non-spoiler” route.

If you just... kind of want to learn a little bit more about myths... this isn't your book.

I debated on rating this 'book' as I read through it. Sometimes, simply on the interest of some new fact to me, I would think 4 stars. Most the time, however, I thought 3 stars. Then I realized that mixed in wi...more
John Wiswell
Nov 15, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mythology readers, religious readers, anthropology readers
I know plenty about certain mythologies, put picked up Ken Davis' book to learn about Hindu, Buddhist, North and South American cultures. Davis is very sympathetic to cultures damaged by imperialiasm; Guns, Germs and Steel is cited at least ten times in the narrative alone, far more than any other resource on any part of the subject. It's still a very well-researched book, and each section is a solid introduction to the characters, stories and anthropological theories for the various mythologies...more
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Kenneth C. Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Don't Know Much About® series of books and audios for adults and children. The first title in the series, Don't Know Much About® History became a New York Times bestseller in 1991 and remained on the paperback list for 35 consecutive weeks. It has since been revised several times and now has more than 1.6 million copies in print.

Dav...more
More about Kenneth C. Davis...
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